How I Work: Evernote Part 2

Around the time I wrote my first post about Evernote, those wonderful developers released a huge update that I had no clue about! This update included one specific feature that has changed the way I work.

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REMINDERS!

The reminders feature is really three tools in one beautiful package.

  1. It allows you to assign a due date to notes.
  2. It allows you to keep important notes at the top of your notebook.
  3. It can act as a task manager. (as opposed to a task list inside of a note, which I have never used)

I now use reminders to keep track of everything I need to do, and I organize them based on their category or event.

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This combined with Evernote’s Web Clipper extension for Chrome has made Evernote exponentially more useful to me. When someone emails me a request to do something, I simply create a note from the email inside of Gmail. I can even put it in the proper notebook and set it as a reminder!

The one thing it doesn’t do is allow you to create a recurring task. For this reason, I keep my recurring tasks in Any.do.

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How I Work: Evernote Part 2

How I Work: The Leftovers

We are nearing the end of my posts about how I use what I use. In this post I’ll be covering the remaining apps very quickly. These are all apps that I love, but don’t merit an entire blog post.

Chrome

If you’re not using Chrome or Firefox you’re doing yourself an injustice. I personally prefer Chrome because of it’s powerful integration with my Google account. My favorite feature is being able to view tabs open in my Chrome browser on other devices. A lot of times I’ll leave something like a UPS shipment tracking page open on my computer at work and I can easily access that page from anywhere I am signed into Chrome.

Trello

If I worked on projects with a team on a regular basis I would use Trello. My initial idea was to use it to track needs for events at church didn’t pan out. It just made more sense to use Evernote for that. Trello is a lot like what Google Wave was. A very visual experience and built well for collaborating with others.

Ideas (iPhone only)

Ideas is really useful for content creators. You type whatever idea you have and it will organize it based on keywords in the idea itself. It’s actually not as complex or sophisticated as it sounds, but it’s very useful. I use it to keep track of blog post ideas. I can easily view all blog posts that have the keyword “productivity” in them, and then look through them to figure out what I want to write about.

30/30 (iOS only)

I wish I worked in an environment that allowed me to follow a specific routine so I could use 30/30 more often. Unfortunately I always have things come up last minute. 30/30 can be used to schedule your day, your work out routine or to keep track of how long you spend on different tasks.

Songza

Some people don’t like Pandora because you can’t choose exactly what you listen to. If you are one of those people, Songza is NOT for you. With Songza you choose what to listen to based on what you are currently doing. Working, studying, partying or sleeping, they have a personally crafted playlist for you! I’m currently listening to this playlist at a low volume while Soundroom is creating an atmosphere for my writing.

Penultimate

Penultimate is a companion for Evernote. If you like using a stylus to handwrite notes on your tablet, Penultimate is a great app to have handy.

Ok, we are almost to the end of this series, I have one more post to make. This post will be an extension correction of a previous post.

How I Work: The Leftovers

How I Work: Twitter

“Learning Twitter.”

That was my first tweet ever. I had no clue what I was doing and I certainly didn’t learn anything.

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I even found my first twitpic.

All of that being said, I’ve come a long way in the last 5 years. So how do I tweet now? It’s simple really.

My Twitter experience boils down to 2 tools. First up. Hootsuite.

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Hootsuite is no secret. I’ve been using it off and on for years and it’s the Twitter client chosen by many, specifically for people who maintain multiple Twitter accounts.

I have Hootsuite linked to my personal Twitter, my church Twitter and Facebook and our youth group Twitter and Facebook. What’s interesting is that I use it completely differently for my personal and business accounts.

For my personal account, Hootsuite is my Twitter reader. Very rarely do I actually tweet from Hootsuite. I have those I’m following split up into 5 lists: Don’t Miss, Pastor, Funny, Worship Leader, Friends. I check my Don’t Miss list every day, and it’s a must have list for anyone interested in using Twitter efficiently. Just be sure to be stingy with who makes the cut.

For my church/business accounts, Hootsuite is my social media scheduler. Every Monday I schedule all of my social media posts for the rest of the week. Being able to plan posts ahead of time is priceless. Before I started doing this my posts were scattered and random at best.

The second tool I use is something fairly new to my arsenal. Buffer.

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Buffer’s only purpose is to schedule your tweets automatically for you.

“But Kyle! Hootsuite does that too!”

You are correct. Hootsuite does have an auto-schedule feature. However, there is one small thing that Buffer does that Hootsuite doesn’t.

With Buffer you create a custom, repeating schedule for your tweets. You don’t have to worry about specifying when to post something, you just send it to Buffer and it puts it in the next available slot. (You can later adjust the order of posts in the browser, or in the app)

And guess what? Feedly and Pocket can both connect to Buffer!

Hootsuite doesn’t have native support for Buffer, but Buffer allows you to email a tweet from Hootsuite (or anywhere) to a special Buffer email address and it will schedule your retweets that way. This takes a very little bit of extra time, but it’s worth it.

You can also add new tweets to your queue directly in the Buffer app.

So, to sum up the last 3 posts.

  • Feedly and Pocket are great for reading articles.
  • It’s easy to share articles from Feedly and Pocket, you can even share them via Buffer.
  • Buffer helps spread out your twitter posts by posting them on a schedule that you set.
  • Hootsuite is unrivaled when it comes to managing multiple accounts and reading your feeds.

 

How I Work: Twitter

How I Work: Reading Part 2

As I mentioned in my previous post, Feedly is great, but sometimes I just want to skim through articles and I don’t have the time (or the desire) to actually read them.

[Time for a random story]

Growing up our microwave was on the counter a few feet away from the sink. It sat at an angle, and behind it was an organizer of sorts. Now that I think about it, it was actually a napkin holder, like this. Ours didn’t hold napkins, it held papers. Very important papers. Anything from school permission slips to medical bills could be found “behind the microwave”.

For years this was a running gag in my family that if you’re looking for something it’s most likely “behind the microwave”.

Then one day we got a rolling stand, like this, and put the microwave on it. Now the microwave was sitting with it’s back up against a wall. “Behind the microwave” ceased to exist.

Or did it?

The napkin holder filled with papers was still there on the counter. For years when we were looking for something we would still refer to it as “behind the microwave”.

My mom now lives in a completely different house, and she still has an area we refer to as “behind the microwave”.

[End random story]

Enter Pocket!

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Pocket, just like Feedly, is pretty much available for any platform.

Pocket is my digital “behind the microwave”. It’s not a junk-drawer, because the things that go in it are important and will eventually be used. Pocket is where I send articles that I want to read later, and guess what? Feedly can send directly to Pocket!

Pocket does a wonderful job at taking an article from a website and cleaning the clutter. I’d say it does an even better job than Feedly, but not by much.

Oh, and did I mention it makes the articles available offline? Yeah. Awesomesauce.

It also takes advantage of iOS7’s background app refresh, so it downloads them automagically. Yeah. Awesomesaucer.

Next up I think I’ll talk about how I Twitter. Twitter is also considered a verb now, right?

I guess I should be more worried about using the word awesomesaucer.

How I Work: Reading Part 2

How I Work: Reading

I have an extreme dislike for reading. I can count on one hand the books I have actually read.

  1. Matilda
  2. Night
  3. The Scarlet Letter
  4. Hunger Games
  5. Some book about orcs.

Seriously, I hate reading. I have such an addiction to multitasking and I can’t do multiple things while reading a book, therefore I don’t read.

Then I started using Google Reader about 6 years ago and I discovered that I liked reading if it taught me something new. I became obsessed with subscribing to blogs and keeping up with the news, technology trends and ways to improve my life.

Then I bought an iPad and that passion was rekindled. Sadly, shortly after getting my first iPad Google Reader was shut down.

Enter Feedly.

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Feedly quickly became the go-to replacement for Google Reader for pretty much everyone. As soon as the creators of Feedly announced that you could import all of your Google Reader feeds onto their servers before Google Reader bit the dust, everyone flocked to their app.

Come to find out, Feedly (in my opinion) is far better than Google Reader ever was. The design and interface is much nicer, and the sharing options are more robust. The main selling point to me however was that they made a reading service that doesn’t make me feel like I have to read every single article in my feed.

Seriously, the design is beautifully minimal.

Thanks to their default “Today” view, you can just read the most important posts of the day. It’s not a big deal if you don’t have time to read every unread article, just read the most important posts.

I almost forgot to mention another key feature; Feedly is available on every platform you can think of. You have no excuse to not keep up with your favorite blogs anymore, thanks to Feedly.

Feedly is also able to share articles with a plethora of other services, and is compatible with IFTTT.

In my next post I’ll tell you about Feedly’s cousin, the second part to my reading app arsenal.

How I Work: Reading

How I Work: Todo Lists

Task management has been an obsession of mine for a long time. I am constantly on the look out for new apps to try. I still have yet to find the perfect app for me, but I’m closer than I have ever been.

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For a long time I used Wunderlist. Wunderlist is a beautiful app, and is available for pretty much everything. It is extremely powerful and robust, even without a Pro account.

Therein lies problem #1. It’s a freemium service. To get the good features, you’ve gotta pay. It’s still very powerful without a free account, but this brings me to problem #2. Even the free version can be overly complicated for a task manager.

I need a task manager that is super simple. Not for me, but for my coworkers. I want to be able to assign tasks to everyone on our church staff*. For this to happen, the app needs to be super intuitive, and not feature-rich.

*I believe Wunderlist requires a Pro account for this, which is problem #3.

Enter Any.DO.

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Beautifully simple. Super intuitive. Completely free.

Any.DO has the ability to be as simple or complex as you’d like it. It is completely based around when tasks need to be done. This can be as simple as “Today, Tomorrow, Upcoming, or Some Day”, or as complex as “Every Tuesday at 2:31pm”.

Any.DO gives you a notification every morning to remind you to plan your day. This is probably my favorite feature. It helps me set the tone for the rest of my day. It goes through every task for the day and asks if and when you would like to be reminded about them. You can also delay a task for another day if you’d like.

Another neat feature is if you mention a contact name in a task it puts a button to the right to give you easy access to contact the person.

However, Any.DO is not without flaws. Syncing between multiple devices doesn’t feel consistently fluid, but it’s getting better. It is only available for iPhones, Android phones and as a Chrome extension or Chrome desktop app (a new type of Chrome extension that was recently introduced). There is no official tablet version, nor is there a self-installing desktop app (however, the Chrome app is pretty nifty, and feels like a desktop app).

I have only recently started using the task assigning/sharing features, but it seems to work great, as long as you use the same email address that the other person used to sign into Any.DO with.

If Any.DO fixes the minor syncing issues and creates an official iPad app, they will completely win me over.

How I Work: Todo Lists

How I Work: How Evernote

If you missed part 1 of this series, you may want to check it out. I talk about why I use Evernote instead of one of the other bazillion note apps out there.

Before I get into explaining how I use Evernote, let me first make sure you understand these two things about the application. You can sort notes in two ways. Notes are stored in notebooks and can have labels (called tags). Having two levels of sorting is incredibly powerful because it allows you to view all notes that contain a specific tag regardless of which notebook they belong to.

CLEANING HOUSE

The biggest thing that Evernote helps me with is keeping a clean desk. Every day I am handed countless pieces of paper that require some sort of action to be taken. 90% of the time the paper itself isn’t important, I just need the information on the paper. At some point in the day (usually when I get to work, or before I leave) I will take all of the paper on my desk and create a new note in Evernote with a picture of the paper. I will then title the note and give it any appropriate tags.

For a while this was all I would do, but I quickly discovered that notes would be forgotten and many tasks would go by without being completed. To solve this I created tags for each day of the week. When I create the note I add the tag for whatever day I need to look at the note on.

ImageFor example, tonight we had a men’s event and one of our staff brought me a request for mailing labels that was from one of our Sunday School teachers. I immediately pulled out my phone, opened Evernote and created a new note with a picture of the hand written note. I then titled it “Mailing Label Request” and then gave it the tag “Friday” so that I remember to do it the next day. The final step is always the most satisfying… throwing the piece of paper away.

You might be saying to yourself, “Kyle, how do you remember to check the daily tag every day?” Easy. I created a recurring task in Any.DO (my preferred todo list app) to remind me to check it.

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I’ll be reviewing Any.DO in another post in the near future.

NOTEBOOK SCTRUCTURE

One of the things people say about Evernote is that the more you use it, the better it gets. This is true, but you have to learn to adapt your notebook structure to ensure maximum efficiency.

After using Evernote for a few months I discovered that one notebook (called Church) had a large amount of notes in it making it difficult to find the note I’m specifically looking for. Tags can help with this, but I wanted a better way to organize my notes so I created 6 sub-notebooks inside the Church notebook.

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In your Evernote settings you can set a specific notebook to be your default notebook. I have mine set to “Church:To Sort”. This notebook is simply a catch-all notebook for all new notes. This saves me time when creating the note because I don’t have to think about changing the notebook the note should be in. Instead, later when I’m at my desk I go through the sort folder and put notes where they belong. I may eventually move this notebook outside of the church notebook system, but for now that’s where I have it.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

There are a lot more things I use Evernote for, but this is the majority of it. I’ll continue mentioning Evernote as I proceed in this series.

After reading this post, be sure to check out my updated post where I talk about one key feature added to Evernote that I don’t talk about here!

How I Work: How Evernote